Advice from Authors

Christine de Luca

Some thoughts on writing your poem

  • Read lots of poems and work out why some appeal to you more than others
  • Learn about the tools for writing poems. You can still be inventive and push against rules of form, rhyme, metre, but it's good to know the basics
  • Put your ideas, word, image, or story down on paper while it's fresh in your head
  • Then work on the rough draft to achieve the best words in the best order
  • Ask yourself questions like
    • Can I improve it by cutting out some words, lines, stanzas, even favourite pieces?
    • Have I got too many descriptive words (adjectives and adverbs)?
    • Does it hang together or lack unity?
    • Can I improve it by shifting things round a bit, changing line breaks (visual pauses)?
    • Is the first line likely to hook the reader's interest?
    • Does the poem have any music, rhythm? (Read it aloud)
    • Does it sound natural or a bit stilted?
    • Has it got a shape or is it all over the place? (Some poems can still be good and look a bit shapeless!)
    • Is the final line strong enough or does the poem fade?
    • Does the title help the reader, raise interest?
    • Will the poem leave the reader with a strong resonance or maybe food for thought?
    • Have I left some room for the reader's imagination?
  • Then lay it aside for a bit, and go through the same process again!
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